It really tells you something about the state of the world when a fast food chain can make you cry and change the way you think about a major issue. But that's exactly what Burger King's anti-bullying PSA will do to you. The three-minute video addresses bullying in a way that seems ridiculous on the surface, but really drives the point home. The video shows customers in a Burger King location eating their meals while a group of high schoolers bully a kid. Pretty much everyone goes about their business.
Then it cuts to the kitchen, where a Burger King employee "bullies" a Whopper Jr., punching it and breaking it up into pieces before wrapping it up and serving it to people. "It's just a defenseless Whopper Junior. It can't stand up for itself," the employee says. According to the video, 95 percent of customers who unwrapped their burger to find it had been destroyed walked up to the counter to complain and report the bad product.
Customers are clearly upset and go to great lengths, even insulting the employee and calling a manager, to report the "bullied" burger. The employee asks one man complaining about the state of his sandwich, "if you had seen me bullying the burger, would you have reported it?" "Yes," the man replies.
These are some of the same people who sat by and watched a high school "junior" (see what they did there?) get picked on by a group of teens, played by actors.
Alas, not all people could just sit and watch the kid get bullied by his friends, all played by actors. During the experiment, 12 percent of adults stood up for the teen and did what they could to stop it, Burger King said in the PSA.
One man walks over and is told by Bully #1 that they're "just having fun." "Are you having fun?" the man asks the kid getting bullied. When he gets no response, he explains to the other kids to quit it.
Another woman steps in and asks the kid if he's OK and when he says it's alright, she refuses to believe him and walks over to the set of tables, setting her tray down. She introduces herself to the bully, who eventually leaves. "This feels better to me," she says. When the teen being bullied asks her if she's ever been "messed with" she relates. "The ideal world is where if someone sees something weird happening, they come over and say 'hey, this is not OK," the woman says.
The video includes interviews with non-actor teens who share their stories of being bullied or bullying. "It's easy to get caught up in bullying, because you're just thankful it's not you," one kid says in the introduction. Later, kids who have been bullied recount that the best feeling — the thing that stopped the bullying — was when a friend or someone came over and told the bullies to knock it off. Just like one might do if they get a messy burger at a fast food chain.
The message is so simple, which is partly why it's so moving. Along with teaching kids not to bully, the equally important thing is teaching kids how to stand up for others and not be scared to say something. While it might be "easier" to do nothing, doing something feels so much better and has the potential to make things change for good.
Ugh, Burger King why were you so good at this?
Mainly because of its partner in the hidden camera ad, No Bully, which is a non-punitive system to end bullying. According to No Bully, 30 percent of kids are bullied every year at schools. Its mission is to create "bully free schools."
According to StopBullying.gov, a website set up by the Department of Health and Human Services, about 49 percent of kids reported being bullied in the past month and 30 percent reported bullying others in the same time period. Of those, only 20 percent of kids reported the bullying to an adult.
It's a tough spot for parents to be in. If you think your kid is being bullied, the National Crime Prevention Council recommends talking to a teacher or administrator instead of the bully's parents. At home, you can help your child learn self-confidence, such as looking people in the eye and walking with their head held high. Experts recommend talking to your kid and making sure they feel safe. It's also important to not blame them.
Experts at Great Schools say that "when a child finally works up the courage to report bullying, it isn’t appropriate to criticize him for causing it or not handling the situation correctly."
In addition to helping kids handle bullying at school or elsewhere, teaching them to stand up for others is a huge part of No Bully's mission. Sure, this video is essentially an ad for a burger joint, but it's still pretty powerful. If Burger King can tackle bullying in schools, surely the rest of us can, too.
Watch Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:
Check out the entire Romper's Doula Diaries series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.